Game review: Company Of Heroes 2

In the critically acclaimed real-time strategy (RTS) game, Company Of Heroes (COH), you were the Allied forces storming the beaches of Normandy before pushing the armies of Nazi Germany out of France during World War II.

That was 2006.

Seven years and two expansion packs later, COH2 is here. And it is still World War II.

Now, you take on the Third Reich with the Soviet forces, defending Stalingrad and invading Berlin.

In the single-player campaign, the missions are played through flashbacks from the interrogation of Soviet army Lieutenant Lev Isakovich in a Siberian gulag by his war commanding officer.

If you played the original, you will find that the RTS elements remain the same. Unlike other RTS games that require you to mine some fictional resources, there are three real resources in COH2 - manpower, ammunition and fuel.

You need to capture strategic points to gain territory sectors, which then allows you to obtain these resources. The more resources you have, the more soldiers and units you can recruit, including mortar squads, combat engineers, snipers, anti-tank gun squads and even tanks.

The graphics are superb and individual units are portrayed accurately. Battle environments are also authentically and beautifully constructed, from derelict buildings to knee-deep snow.

Audio effects are equally authentic, from the eerie screech of mortar shells to the thump of tank fire. But the cutscenes in between missions look dated and awkward, with unnatural character movements and Russian-accented voice acting.

There is nothing awkward during gameplay. You will be introduced to the utter despair and desperation of war.

Everything is destructible. Placing your soldiers behind a brick wall might provide them cover from machine gun fire, but not from a tank's round.

In addition, your soldiers can die in the freezing winter snow if you do not get them to a house or fireplace in time. Thick snow slows them down as well, so you have to plot their route properly.

Your soldiers also need a line of sight in order to be able to fire and your mortar squads need the fog of war to be cleared so they can zero in on their targets. So each mission requires prompt decisive micro-management of your units.

Campaign missions are varied. Early missions require you to hold positions or retreat, while later missions offer you the chance to go on the offensive. One mission even requires you to save Lieutenant Isakovich.

If you are done with the campaign, you can play Theater Of War, which includes a series of cooperative and solo challenges. In multiplayer mode, the matchmaking system makes sure you play against human opponents of the same rank.

Company Of Heroes 2 continues the great tradition of the original with a superb campaign, tremendous graphics and addictive gameplay. But if one has to be critical, it offers nothing really new and feels like a giant expansion pack. Not that this is at all a bad thing.